Resurfaced blacktop battle goes to Marcos

POLO – The “Battle of the Blacktop” between Polo and Milledgeville has resurfaced, and the Marcos appear to have written the start of the rivalry’s new chapter.

And what a start to that chapter it was.

With 5:25 to play in the fourth quarter Friday, Polo tied the hard-fought game after a Tyler Merdian pass to Kahlil Sankey from 40 yards out. Merdian then put the Marcos up by two with a successful 2-point pitch to the left side to Avery Grenoble for the 40-38 win.

Brady Wolber’s interception with 1:35 to play in the game sealed the win for the Marcos.

The first half wound up being a shootout up until a halftime tie at 26. The Marcos owned brief leads during the run, but the Missiles came back each time.

Milledgeville’s first drive of the game penetrated the Marcos red zone, but an interception by Wolber stopped that run short. The Marcos’ next drive was successful; after a short pass from Merdian to Sankey went for 63 yards, Brock Soltow ran 3 yards for the score and an 8-0 lead after Merdian ran the point-after opportunity.

Missiles quarterback Connor Nye responded just a couple of plays into his team’s next drive with a 36-yard run from their four-wide formation right through the Marcos’ line. His point-after pass fell incomplete, however, and the Missiles trailed 8-6.

Grenoble started the second quarter for the Marcos with a 25-yard run along the right side for a 14-6 lead. Nye’s next passing score came to Kieren Harris from 13 yards out, but the point-after run failed to keep the Missiles trailing by two at 14-12.

The Marcos came back and controlled the clock en route to Soltow’s second score from a yard out with 2 minutes remaining in the half for a 20-12 lead. Nye and the Missiles responded with their third TD with 1:33 left in the half to get back to within two, but Nye’s run during the point-after try ended with a sack by Polo’s Wyatt Queckboerner, who preserved his team’s lead at the time.

The Marcos responded once more with Grenoble’s 41-yard TD run around right end, but once again their two-point try failed to keep their lead to within eight. Nye’s passing success then responded once more with a 4-yard connection to Ashton Nobis to get back to within two, and then the Missiles made good on the ensuring point-after pass to Bryce Aude for the tie at 26 with 11.1 seconds left in the half.

Grenoble amassed 163 yards on 15 carries by halftime. Nye had 162 yards both on the ground and in the air at the half.

Soltow broke the halftime tie with the second of his two 1-yard TD runs with 8:05 to play in the third quarter for a 32-26 lead.

Nye connected on a 54-yard pass to Bryce Aude with 5:40 to go in the third to tie the game again, but Nye was brought down in the backfield on the 2-point try by Cayden Webster and Wayde Reimer to keep the tie intact.

After both teams traded turnovers, Nye and Aude connected again for a score, this time from 49 yards out for the Missiles’ first lead at 38-32 with 1:38 left in the third.

The rivalry dates back to when the Marcos and Missiles became conference rivals starting in the former Upstate Illini Conference in 1991, but was halted when the Marcos joined the 8-man ranks in 2019. This is Milledgeville’s first year playing the modified football format.

Cody Cutter

Cody Cutter

These days, Cody Cutter primarily writes for territorial "Living" magazines and specialty publications in northern Illinois, including the monthly "Lake Lifestyle" magazine for Lake Carroll. He also covers sports and news on occasion; he has covered high school sports in northern Illinois for nearly 20 years in online and print formats.